Understanding Capsule Endoscopy
What is Capsule Endoscopy?
Capsule Endoscopy lets your doctor examine the lining of the middle
part of your gastrointestinal tract, which includes the three portions
of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum). Your doctor will
use a pill sized video capsule called an endoscope, which has its
own lens and light source and will view the images on a video monitor.
You might hear your doctor or other medical staff refer to capsule
endoscopy as small bowel endoscopy, capsule enteroscopy, or wireless
Why is Capsule Endoscopy Done?
Capsule endoscopy helps your doctor evaluate the small intestine.
This part of the bowel cannot be reached by traditional upper endoscopy
or by colonoscopy. The most common reason for doing capsule endoscopy
is to search for a cause of bleeding from the small intestine. It
may also be useful for detecting polyps, inflammatory bowel disease
(Crohn’s disease), ulcers, and tumors of the small intestine.
As is the case with most new diagnostic procedures, not all insurance
companies are currently reimbursing for this procedure. You may
need to check with your own insurance company to ensure that this
is a covered benefit.
How Should I Prepare for the Procedure?
An empty stomach allows for the best
and safest examination, so you should have nothing to eat or drink,
including water, for approximately twelve hours before the examination.
Your doctor will tell you when to start fasting.
Tell your doctor in advance about any medications you take including
iron, aspirin, bismuth subsalicylate products and other “over-the-counter”
medications. You might need to adjust your usual dose prior to the
Discuss any allergies to medications as well as medical conditions,
such as swallowing disorders and heart or lung disease.
Tell your doctor of the presence of a pacemaker, previous abdominal
surgery, or previous history of obstructions in the bowel, inflammatory
bowel disease, or adhesions.
What Can I Expect During Capsule Endoscopy?
Your doctor will prepare you for the examination by applying a sensor
device to your abdomen with adhesive sleeves (similar to tape).
The capsule endoscope is swallowed and passes naturally through
your digestive tract while transmitting video images to a data recorder
worn on your belt for approximately eight hours. At the end of the
procedure you will return to the office and the data recorder is
removed so that images of your small bowel can be put on a computer
screen for physician review.
What Happens After Capsule Endoscopy?
You will be able to drink
clear liquids after two hours and eat a light meal after four hours
following the capsule ingestion, unless your doctor instructs you
otherwise. You will have to avoid vigorous physical activity such
as running or jumping during the study. Your doctor generally can
tell you the test results within the week following the procedure;
however, the results of some tests might take longer.
What are the Possible Complications of Capsule Endoscopy?
can occur, they are rare when doctors who are specially trained
and experienced in this procedure, such as members of the American
Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, perform the test. Potential
risks include complications from obstruction. This usually relates
to a stricture (narrowing) of the intestine from inflammation, prior
surgery, or tumor. It’s important to recognize early signs
of possible complications. If you have evidence of obstruction,
such as unusual bloating, pain, and/or vomiting, call your doctor
immediately. Also, if you develop a fever after the test, have trouble
swallowing or experience increasing chest pain, tell your doctor
immediately. Be careful not to prematurely disconnect the system
as this may result in loss of image acquisition. ASGE Patient Education
brochures are available for purchase in packs of 50. Download order
Pillcam SB Capsule Endoscopy
ASGE - The Source for Colonoscopy and Endoscopy
The preceding information is intended only to provide general information
and not as a definitive basis for diagnosis or treatment in any
particular case. It is very important that you consult your doctor
about your specific condition.